JBLM soldiers look forward to care packages from their ‘home base’
By Kim Haub
All Saints School fourth-graders Max Burns, left, Gabi Gonzalez and Jack Gatpatan sort socks, books and toiletries to keep them separate from food items as they prepare boxes for parishioners and other local soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan. Photo: Kim Haub
When 17 service members from All Saints Parish are deployed to the rugged mountains of Afghanistan in March, they’ll know their fellow parishioners are thinking of them.
Since early February, parishioners have been donating items to send overseas — things like gum, jerky, rosaries, prayer booklets, letters of encouragement and the soldiers’ favorite, Girl Scout Cookies.
“Care packages are a reminder of home. They show that people care,” said Army Capt. Eric Anton, an All Saints parishioner based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord who is headed to his second tour in Afghanistan.
It was a fellow parishioner, Army Sgt. Timothy Foltz, who got the care package operation rolling at All Saints, where about a third of parishioners have some tie to JBLM. Foltz initially asked All Saints’ pastor, Father Michael Radermacher, if he would consider performing a blessing for those preparing for deployment.
“He said yes, and then asked what else he could do for us,” said Foltz, leaving for his third combat mission (two were in Iraq). “I thought well, it’s nice to get something in the mail — a connection to the United States, like socks and deodorant. Father said, ‘I love it, let’s do it!’”
Volunteers and students from the parish are putting together the care packages, which will be shipped after Foltz and Anton arrive in Afghanistan. The operation relies on monetary donations to cover the cost of postage. When the parcels arrive, the men will distribute them to members of their units.
Among the abundance of supplies collected by All Saints parishioners, Girl Scout Cookies are some of the soliders’ favorite things to get. Photo: Kim Haub
“We have so many active-duty families in our parish and school,” Father Radermacher said. “Their lives can be disrupted quickly and we need to respond quickly, too. Of course we want to help the service member who is deployed, but we must also offer support to the family members who are left at home.”
The parish recently changed the welcome cards in its pews to include a space for military connections, according to Peggy Alston, pastoral assistant for adult faith formation. If parishioners or their family members are deployed, the parish will send them care packages.
“I thought that was pretty cool,” Foltz said. “Father Michael wants this to be more than just once. He wants it to be ongoing.”
Military personnel preparing for deployment to Afghanistan are invited to receive a special blessing at 10 a.m. March 16 at All Saints Parish Center, 503 Third St. S.W., Puyallup.
The blessing, open to service personnel and their families of all religious backgrounds, is being held during the parish’s Knights of Columbus breakfast.
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